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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Large Cloud of Magellan

    08/26/2015 11:33:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The 16th century Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the Clouds of Magellan, now understood to be satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy. About 160,000 light-years distant in the constellation Dorado, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here in a remarkably deep, colorful, image. Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is the most massive of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Collinder 399: The Coat Hanger

    08/26/2015 8:30:46 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is this coat hanger a star cluster or an asterism? This cosmic hang-up has been debated over much of last century, as astronomers wondered whether this binocular-visible object is really a physically associated open cluster or a chance projection. Chance star projections are known as asterisms, an example of which is the popular Big Dipper. Recent precise measurements from different vantage points in the Earth's orbit around the Sun have uncovered discrepant angular shifts indicating that the Coat Hanger is better described as an asterism. Known more formally as Collinder 399, this bright stellar grouping is wider than the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Meteors and Milky Way over Mount Rainier

    08/25/2015 8:49:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Despite appearances, the sky is not falling. Two weeks ago, however, tiny bits of comet dust were. Featured here is the Perseids meteor shower as captured over Mt. Rainier, Washington, USA. The image was created from a two-hour time lapse video, snaring over 20 meteors, including one that brightened dramatically on the image left. Although each meteor train typically lasts less than a second, the camera was able to capture their color progressions as they disintegrated in the Earth's atmosphere. Here an initial green tint may be indicative of small amounts of glowing magnesium atoms that were knocked off...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dione, Rings, Shadows, Saturn

    08/24/2015 5:35:56 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | August 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening in this strange juxtaposition of moon and planet? First and foremost, Saturn's moon Dione was captured here in a dramatic panorama by the robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting the giant planet. The bright and cratered moon itself spans about 1100-km, with the large multi-ringed crater Evander visible on the lower right. Since the rings of Saturn are seen here nearly edge-on, they are directly visible only as a thin horizontal line that passes behind Dione. Arcing across the bottom of the image, however, are shadows of Saturn's rings, showing some of the rich texture that could not...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Giant Cluster Bends, Breaks Images

    08/23/2015 3:29:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What are those strange blue objects? Many of the brightest blue images are of a single, unusual, beaded, blue, ring-like galaxy which just happens to line-up behind a giant cluster of galaxies. Cluster galaxies here typically appear yellow and -- together with the cluster's dark matter -- act as a gravitational lens. A gravitational lens can create several images of background galaxies, analogous to the many points of light one would see while looking through a wine glass at a distant street light. The distinctive shape of this background galaxy -- which is probably just forming -- has allowed...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Little Planet Curiosity

    08/22/2015 10:40:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A curious robot almost completely straddles this rocky little planet. Of course, the planet is really Mars and the robot is the car-sized Curiosity Rover, posing over its recent drilling target in the Marias Pass area of lower Mount Sharp. The 92 images used to assemble the little planet projection, a digitally warped and stitched mosaic covering 360x180 degrees, were taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the Curiosity mission sol (martian day) 1065. That corresponds to 2015 August 5, three Earth years since Curiosity landed on the surface of the Red Planet. The composite selfie...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sprites from Space

    08/20/2015 10:26:22 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: An old Moon and the stars of Orion rose above the eastern horizon on August 10. The Moon's waning crescent was still bright enough to be overexposed in this snapshot taken from another large satellite of planet Earth, the International Space Station. A greenish airglow traces the atmosphere above the limb of the planet's night. Below, city lights and lightning flashes from thunderstorms appear over southern Mexico. The snapshot also captures the startling apparition of a rare form of upper atmospheric lightning, a large red sprite caught above a lightning flash at the far right. While the space station's...
  • Company in Canada gets U.S. patent for space elevator

    08/20/2015 1:07:19 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 28 replies
    phys.org ^ | August 15, 2015 | by Nancy Owano
    20 km Space Tower ====================================================================================================================== Exploring space while seated on Earth, gazing up on screens in museum theaters or at home via VR headsets. is exciting but the top imagination-grabber is the very idea of finding a way to access space. This is the present-day realm of creative thinking over space elevators, in the use of a giant tower to carry us to space. Scientists working on space elevators are thinking about materials and designs that can be used to access space as an alternative to rocket technology. A sign of the times is the upcoming Space Elevator Conference...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M27: Not a Comet

    08/19/2015 10:50:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: While hunting for comets in the skies above 18th century France, astronomer Charles Messier diligently kept a list of the things he encountered that were definitely not comets. This is number 27 on his now famous not-a-comet list. In fact, 21st century astronomers would identify it as a planetary nebula, but it's not a planet either, even though it may appear round and planet-like in a small telescope. Messier 27 (M27) is an excellent example of a gaseous emission nebula created as a sun-like star runs out of nuclear fuel in its core. The nebula forms as the star's...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Central Cygnus Skyscape

    08/18/2015 10:55:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | August 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In cosmic brush strokes of glowing hydrogen gas, this beautiful skyscape unfolds across the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy and the center of the northern constellation Cygnus the Swan. The featured image spans about six degrees. Bright supergiant star Gamma Cygni (Sadr) to the upper left of the image center lies in the foreground of the complex gas and dust clouds and crowded star fields. Left of Gamma Cygni, shaped like two luminous wings divided by a long dark dust lane is IC 1318, whose popular name is understandably the Butterfly Nebula. The more compact, bright nebula at...
  • Late Summer Tales of Tanabata

    08/18/2015 2:19:52 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    Universe Today ^ | David Dickinson
    One of the surest signs that late summer is here in the northern hemisphere is the arrival of the Milky Way in the early evening sky....the star-dappled plane of our home galaxy sits almost due south and stretches far to the north. This is also why we refer to the triangular shaped asterism formed by the bright stars of Altair, Deneb and Vega as the Summer Triangle. Two of these stars are the focus of a fascinating mythos from the Far East, and a poetic celestial configuration that commemorates star-crossed lovers lost. We first heard of tales of Tanabata while...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Announcing Comet Catalina

    08/18/2015 1:24:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Will Comet Catalina become visible to the unaided eye? Given the unpredictability of comets, no one can say for sure, but it seems like a good bet. The comet was discovered in 2013 by observations of the Catalina Sky Survey. Since then, Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) has steadily brightened and is currently brighter than 8th magnitude, making it visible with binoculars and long-duration camera images. As the comet further approaches the inner Solar System it will surely continue to intensify, possibly becoming a naked eye object sometime in October and peaking sometime in late November. The comet will reside...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Andromeda Rising over the Alps

    08/16/2015 9:46:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | August 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen the Andromeda galaxy? Although M31 appears as a faint and fuzzy blob to the unaided eye, the light you see will be over two million years old, making it likely the oldest light you ever will see directly. Now rising near a few hours after sunset from mid-latitude northern locations, Andromeda is rising earlier each night and will be visible to northerners all night long starting in September. The featured image captured Andromeda rising above the Italian Alps last month. As cool as it may be to see this neighboring galaxy to our Milky Way...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M1: The Crab Nebula from Hubble

    08/16/2015 7:06:58 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | August 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. The featured image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is presented in three colors chosen for scientific interest. The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. In the nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Perihelion Approaches

    08/15/2015 12:07:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | August 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This dramatic outburst from the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko occured on August 12, just hours before perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun. Completing an orbit of the Sun once every 6.45 years, perihelion distance for this periodic comet is about 1.3 astronomical units (AU), still outside the orbit of planet Earth (at 1 AU). The stark image of the 4 kilometer wide, double-lobed nucleus in bright sunlight and dark shadows was taken by the Rosetta spacecraft's science camera about 325 kilometers away. Too close to see the comet's growing tail, Rosetta maintains its ringside seat to watch the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Dust over Enchanted Rock

    08/14/2015 4:38:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | August 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Dusty debris from periodic Comet Swift-Tuttle was swept up by planet Earth this week. Vaporized by their passage through the dense atmosphere at 59 kilometers per second, the tiny grains produced a stream of Perseid meteors. A bright, colorful Perseid meteor flash was captured during this 20 second exposure. It made its ephemeral appearance after midnight on August 12, in the moonless skies over the broad granite dome of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, central Texas, USA. Below the Perseid meteor, trees stand in silhouette against scattered lights along the horizon and the faint Milky Way, itself cut by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moonless Meteors and the Milky Way

    08/13/2015 2:26:45 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you watched the Perseid meteor shower? Though the annual shower's predicted peak was last night, meteor activity should continue tonight (August 13/14), best enjoyed by just looking up in clear, dark skies after midnight. Of course, this year's Perseid shower has the advantage of being active near the August 14 New Moon. Since the nearly New Moon doesn't rise before the morning twilight many fainter meteors are easier to spot until then, with no interference from bright moonlight. The Perseid meteor shower last occurred near a New Moon in 2013. That's when the exposures used to construct this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way and Exploding Meteor

    08/12/2015 3:49:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Tonight the Perseid Meteor Shower reaches its maximum. Grains of icy rock will streak across the sky as they evaporate during entry into Earth's atmosphere. These grains were shed from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids result from the annual crossing of the Earth through Comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit, and are typically the most active meteor shower of the year. Although it is hard to predict the level of activity in any meteor shower, in a clear dark sky an observer might see a meteor a minute. This year's Perseids occur just before a new Moon and so the relatively dark sky...
  • Study Shows That Universe Is Dying [We Are All Doomed]

    08/11/2015 2:00:06 PM PDT · by Purdue77 · 69 replies
    LA Times ^ | 8/10/2015 | Amina Khan
    The Los Angeles Times (8/10, Khan) reports that an international study led by Simon Driver of the University of Western Australia and presented at the International Astronomical Union meeting on Monday found that the amount of light the 200,000 galaxies are outputting is half of what they did two billion years ago, meaning “the universe is dying.” The article notes that seven telescopes were used in the study, including NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft. Driver said that the conclusion is consistent with each of the three indicators measured. However, the universe should continue to exist “far into the foreseeable...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Blue Moon Halo over Antarctica

    08/11/2015 2:59:22 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | August 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen a halo around the Moon? Such 22 degree rings around the Moon -- caused by ice crystals falling in the Earth's atmosphere -- are somewhat rare. OK, but have you ever seen a blue moon? Given the modern definition of blue moon -- the second full moon occurring in a calendar month -- these are also rare. What is featured above might therefore be considered doubly rare -- a halo surrounding a blue moon. The featured image was taken late last month near Zhongshan Station in Antarctica. Visible in the foreground are a power generating...
  • What is the Oort Cloud?

    08/10/2015 4:36:14 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 25 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Matt Williams
    The Oort Cloud is a theoretical spherical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals that is believed to surround the Sun at a distance of up to around 100,000 AU (2 ly). This places it in interstellar space, beyond the Sun’s Heliosphere where it defines the cosmological boundary between the Solar System and the region of the Sun’s gravitational dominance. Like the Kuiper Belt and the Scattered Disc, the Oort Cloud is a reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects, though it is over a thousands times more distant from our Sun as these other two. The idea of a cloud of icy infinitesimals was...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Sagittarius Triplet

    08/10/2015 8:00:42 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | August 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 on the right. The third, NGC 6559, is above M8, separated from the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- HCG 87: A Small Group of Galaxies

    08/09/2015 12:58:12 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes galaxies form groups. For example, our own Milky Way Galaxy is part of the Local Group of Galaxies. Small, compact groups, like Hickson Compact Group 87 (HCG 87) shown above, are interesting partly because they slowly self-destruct. Indeed, the galaxies of HCG 87 are gravitationally stretching each other during their 100-million year orbits around a common center. The pulling creates colliding gas that causes bright bursts of star formation and feeds matter into their active galaxy centers. HCG 87 is composed of a large edge-on spiral galaxy visible near the image center, an elliptical galaxy visible to its...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Curiosity's View

    08/08/2015 4:23:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: By planet Earth's calendar, the Curiosity Mars Rover reached its 3rd anniversary on the surface of the Red Planet on August 6. To celebrate, gaze across this dramatic panoramic view of diverse terrain typical of the rover's journey to the layered slopes of Aeolis Mons, also known as Mount Sharp. Recorded with Curiosity's Mast Camera instrument, the scene looks south across gravel, sand ripples, and boulders toward rounded buttes. In the background, higher layers at left are toward the southeast, with southwest at panorama right. The individual images composing the view were taken on Curiosity's mission sols (martian days)...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Full Moon, Full Earth

    08/07/2015 3:36:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | August 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Moon was new on July 16. Its familiar nearside facing the surface of planet Earth was in shadow. But on that date a million miles away, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) captured this view of an apparently Full Moon crossing in front of a Full Earth. In fact, seen from the spacecraft's position beyond the Moon's orbit and between Earth and Sun, the fully illuminated lunar hemisphere is the less familiar farside. Only known since the dawn of the space age, the farside is mostly devoid of dark lunar maria that...
  • New record: Keck Observatory measures most distant galaxy

    08/06/2015 12:35:20 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 5 replies
    phys.org ^ | 08-05-2015 | by Steve Jefferson & Provided by: W. M. Keck Observatory
    EGSY8p7 is the most distant confirmed galaxy whose spectrum obtained with the W. M. Keck Observatory places it at a redshift of 8.68 at a time when the Universe was less than 600 million years old. The illustration shows the remarkable progress made in recent years in probing early cosmic history. Such studies are important in understanding how the Universe evolved from an early dark period to one when galaxies began to shine. Hydrogen emission from EGSY8p7 may indicate it is the first known example of an early generation of young galaxies emitting unusually strong radiation. Credit: Adi Zitrin, California...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Stereo Pluto

    08/06/2015 3:51:27 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | August 06, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: These two detailed, true color images of Pluto were captured during the historic New Horizons flyby last month. With slightly different perspectives on the now recognizeable surface features they are presented in this first high quality stereo pair intended for viewing by denizens of planet Earth. The left hand image (left eye) is a mosaic recorded when the spacecraft was about 450,000 kilometers from Pluto. The right single image was acquired earlier, a last full look before the spacecraft's closest approach. Despite a difference in resolution, the pair combine for a stunning 3D perception of the distant, underworldly terrain....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- X-ray Echoes from Circinus X-1

    08/05/2015 6:21:24 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | August 05, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Circinus X-1 is an X-ray binary star known for its erratic variability. In the bizarre Circinus X-1 system, a dense neutron star, the collapsed remnant of a supernova explosion, orbits with a more ordinary stellar companion. Observations of the X-ray binary in months following an intense X-ray flare from the source in 2013 progressively revealed striking concentric rings - bright X-ray light echoes from four intervening clouds of interstellar dust. In this X-ray/optical composite, the swaths of Chandra Observatory X-ray image data showing partial outlines of the rings are in false colors. Remarkably, timing the X-ray echoes, along with...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Virgo Cluster Galaxies

    08/04/2015 4:33:37 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | August 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Well over a thousand galaxies are known members of the Virgo Cluster, the closest large cluster of galaxies to our own local group. In fact, the galaxy cluster is difficult to appreciate all at once because it covers such a large area on the sky. This careful wide-field mosaic of telescopic images clearly records the central region of the Virgo Cluster through faint foreground dust clouds lingering above the plane of our own Milky Way galaxy. The cluster's dominant giant elliptical galaxy M87, is just below and to the left of the frame center. To the right of M87...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Proton Arc Over Lake Superior

    08/03/2015 8:51:02 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | August 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The setting had been picked out -- all that was needed was an aurora. And late last August, forecasts predicted that an otherwise beautiful night sky would be lit up with auroral green. Jumping into his truck, the astrophotographer approached his secret site -- but only after a five hour drive across the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan. What he didn't know was that his luck was just beginning. While setting up for the image, a proton arc -- a rare type of aurora -- appeared. The red arc lasted only about 15 minutes, but that was long enough...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Apollo 17 at Shorty Crater

    08/02/2015 12:35:37 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | August 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On the Moon, it is easy to remember where you parked. In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon in the Taurus-Littrow valley, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead. This sharp image was taken by Cernan as he and Schmitt roamed the valley floor. The image shows Schmitt on the left with the lunar rover at the edge of Shorty Crater, near the spot where geologist Schmitt discovered orange lunar soil. The Apollo 17 crew returned with 110 kilograms of rock and soil samples, more than was returned...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Stripping ESO 137-001

    08/01/2015 5:25:03 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | August 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001 hurtles through massive galaxy cluster Abell 3627 some 220 million light years away. The distant galaxy is seen in this colorful Hubble/Chandra composite image through a foreground of the Milky Way's stars toward the southern constellation Triangulum Australe. As the spiral speeds along at nearly 7 million kilometers per hour, its gas and dust are stripped away when ram pressure with the cluster's own hot, tenuous intracluster medium overcomes the galaxy's gravity. Evident in Hubble's near visible light data, bright star clusters have formed in the stripped material along the short, trailing blue streaks. Chandra's...
  • Astronomers find star with three super-Earths

    07/31/2015 10:02:33 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 29 replies
    phys.org ^ | July 30, 2015 | Staff
    This artist's rendition released by NASA on July 30, 2015 shows one possible appearance for the planet HD 219134b ======================================================================================================================== Astronomers said Thursday they had found a planetary system with three super-Earths orbiting a bright, dwarf star—one of them likely a volcanic world of molten rock. The four-planet system had been hiding out in the M-shaped, northern hemisphere constellation Cassiopeia, "just" 21 light years from Earth, a team reported in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. It comprises four planets—one giant and three super-Earths orbiting a star dubbed HD219134. Super-Earths have a mass higher than Earth's but are lighter than gas...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The ISS and a Colorful Moon

    07/31/2015 4:18:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | July 31, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Tonight's Full Moon, the second Full Moon in July, could be called a blue moon according to modern folklore. But this sharp and detailed mosaic, recorded with telescope and digital camera just before July's first Full Moon, actually does show a colorful lunar surface. The colors have been enhanced in the processed image but are real nonetheless, corresponding to real differences in the chemical makeup of the lunar surface. Also easy to see especially when the Moon is near full phase, bright rays from 85 kilometer wide Tycho crater at the upper right extend far across the lunar surface....
  • Here Comes the Sun: Why Weather Influenced the Music of the '60s

    07/30/2015 5:43:07 AM PDT · by Diana in Wisconsin · 53 replies
    AccuWeather ^ | July 30, 2015 | Mark Lebberfinger
    Over 900 songwriters or singers have written or sung about weather, the most common being Bob Dylan, followed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, according to British researchers, writing in the journal Weather. Sixteen percent, or 48, of The Beatles' 308 songs are weather-related. Weather plays a powerful role in our lives so it should be no surprise that the theme is played out in the music songwriters and singers produce, researchers said. "I think they simply wrote about aspects of the world that they enjoyed or inspired them. They have lots of good catchy music tunes, so that helps...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way over Uluru

    07/30/2015 1:16:33 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | July 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The central regions of our Milky Way Galaxy rise above Uluru/Ayers Rock in this striking night skyscape. Recorded on July 13, a faint airglow along the horizon shows off central Australia's most recognizable landform in silhouette. Of course the Milky Way's own cosmic dust clouds appear in silhouette too, dark rifts along the galaxy's faint congeries of stars. Above the central bulge, rivers of cosmic dust converge on a bright yellowish supergiant star Antares. Left of Antares, wandering Saturn shines in the night.
  • What Are These Strange Scarlet Streaks Spotted on Tethys?

    07/29/2015 11:40:55 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 26 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | July 29, 2015 | Jason Major
    They stretch for long distances across the moon’s surface following the rugged terrain, continuing unbroken over hills and down into craters… and their cause isn’t yet known. According to a NASA news release, “The origin of the features and their reddish color is currently a mystery to Cassini scientists. Possibilities being studied include ideas that the reddish material is exposed ice with chemical impurities, or the result of outgassing from inside Tethys. The streaks could also be associated with features like fractures that are below the resolution of the available images.” The images were taken by Cassini during a flyby...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Deep Lagoon

    07/29/2015 4:09:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | July 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Ridges of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds inhabit the turbulent, cosmic depths of the Lagoon Nebula. Also known as M8, The bright star forming region is about 5,000 light-years distant. But it still makes for a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius, toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dominated by the telltale red emission of ionized hydrogen atoms recombining with stripped electrons, this stunning, deep view of the Lagoon's central reaches is about 40 light-years across. Near the center of the frame, the bright hourglass shape is gas ionized and sculpted by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rainbows and Rays over Bryce Canyon

    07/28/2015 5:55:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | July 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening over Bryce Canyon? Two different optical effects that were captured in one image taken earlier this month. Both effects needed to have the Sun situated directly behind the photographer. The nearest apparition was the common rainbow, created by sunlight streaming from the setting sun over the head of the photographer, and scattering from raindrops in front of the canyon. If you look closely, even a second rainbow appears above the first. More rare, and perhaps more striking, are the rays of light that emanate out from the horizon above the canyon. These are known as anticrepuscular rays...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Sombrero Galaxy from Hubble

    07/26/2015 8:36:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | July 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does the Sombrero Galaxy look like a hat? Reasons include the Sombrero's unusually large and extended central bulge of stars, and dark prominent dust lanes that appear in a disk that we see nearly edge-on. Billions of old stars cause the diffuse glow of the extended central bulge. Close inspection of the bulge in the above photograph shows many points of light that are actually globular clusters. M104's spectacular dust rings harbor many younger and brighter stars, and show intricate details astronomers don't yet fully understand. The very center of the Sombrero glows across the electromagnetic spectrum, and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Infrared Trifid

    07/25/2015 1:58:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | July 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20, is easy to find with a small telescope, a well known stop in the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. But where visible light pictures show the nebula divided into three parts by dark, obscuring dust lanes, this penetrating infrared image reveals filaments of glowing dust clouds and newborn stars. The spectacular false-color view is courtesy of the Spitzer Space Telescope. Astronomers have used the Spitzer infrared image data to count newborn and embryonic stars which otherwise can lie hidden in the natal dust and gas clouds of this intriguing stellar nursery. As...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ultraviolet Rings of M31

    07/24/2015 5:01:17 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | July 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A mere 2.5 million light-years away the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, really is just next door as large galaxies go. So close and spanning some 260,000 light-years, it took 11 different image fields from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite's telescope to produce this gorgeous portrait of the spiral galaxy in ultraviolet light. While its spiral arms stand out in visible light images of Andromeda, the arms look more like rings in the GALEX ultraviolet view, a view dominated by the energetic light from hot, young, massive stars. As sites of intense star formation, the rings have...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet PanSTARRS, Moon, and Venus

    07/23/2015 3:41:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | July 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is the object to the left of the big tree that's generating much recent excitement. If you look closely, there you can see Comet PanSTARRS, complete with two tails. During July, this comet has increased markedly in brightness and has just passed its closest approach to Earth. The statuesque tree in the center is a Norfolk Island Pine, and to either side of this tree are New Zealand Pohutukaw trees. Over the trees, far in the distance, are bright Venus and an even brighter crescent Moon. If you look even more closely, you can find Jupiter hidden in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Gamma-ray Rain from 3C 279

    07/22/2015 4:28:31 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | July 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If gamma-rays were raindrops a flare from a supermassive black hole might look like this. Not so gently falling on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope from June 14 to June 16 the gamma-ray photons, with energies up to 50 billion electron volts, originated in active galaxy 3C 279 some 5 billion light-years away. Each gamma-ray "drop" is an expanding circle in the timelapse visualization, the color and maximum size determined by the gamma-ray's measured energy. Starting with a background drizzle, the sudden downpour that then trails off is the intense, high energy flare. The creative and calming presentation of...
  • New Horizons Finds Second Mountain Range in Pluto’s ‘Heart’

    07/21/2015 7:05:27 PM PDT · by cripplecreek · 11 replies
    Pluto’s icy mountains have company. NASA’s New Horizons mission has discovered a new, apparently less lofty mountain range on the lower-left edge of Pluto’s best known feature, the bright, heart-shaped region named Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region). These newly-discovered frozen peaks are estimated to be one-half mile to one mile (1-1.5 kilometers) high, about the same height as the United States’ Appalachian Mountains. The Norgay Montes (Norgay Mountains) discovered by New Horizons on July 15 more closely approximate the height of the taller Rocky Mountains. The new range is just west of the region within Pluto’s heart called Sputnik Planum...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Tails and Star Trails

    07/21/2015 9:22:38 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | July 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: After grazing the western horizon on northern summer evenings Comet PanSTARRS (also known as C/2014 Q1) climbed higher in southern winter skies. A visitor to the inner Solar System discovered in August 2014 by the prolific panSTARRS survey, the comet was captured here on July 17. Comet and colorful tails were imaged from Home Observatory in Mackay, Queensland, Australia. The field of view spans just over 1 degree. Sweeping quickly across a the sky this comet PanSTARRS was closest to planet Earth about 2 days later. Still, the faint stars of the constellation Cancer left short trails in the...
  • Stephen Hawking announces $100 million hunt for alien life

    07/20/2015 5:36:42 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 50 replies
    The Washington Post's Speaking of Science ^ | July 20, 2015 | Rachel Feltman
    On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen. "We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth," Hawking said at Monday's news conference, "So in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life." Geoffrey Marcy, a University of California, Berkeley, astronomer who found most of our first exoplanets, also spoke at the event as part of the group's brain trust....
  • A $100 Million Infusion for SETI Research (two parts: Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough MESSAGE)

    07/20/2015 5:02:44 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 13 replies
    Centauri Dreams ^ | 7/20/15 | Paul Gilster
    A $100 Million Infusion for SETI Researchby Paul Gilster on July 20, 2015 SETI received a much needed boost this morning as Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner, along with physicist Stephen Hawking and a panel including Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, Martin Rees and Geoff Marcy announced a $100 million pair of initiatives to reinvigorate the search. The first of these, Breakthrough Listen, dramatically upgrades existing search methods, while Breakthrough Message will fund an international competition to create the kind of messages we might one day send to other stars, although the intention is also to provoke the necessary discussion and debate...
  • Search for extraterrestrial intelligence gets a $100-million boost

    07/20/2015 3:24:26 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 23 replies
    Nature ^ | 7/20/15 | Zeeya Merali
    Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announces most comprehensive hunt for alien life.You could say that the silence has been deafening. Since its beginnings more than half a century ago, the dedicated search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has failed to detect the presence of alien civilizations. But at London’s Royal Society today (20 July), Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a shot in the arm for SETI: a US$100-million decadal project to provide the most comprehensive hunt for alien communications so far. The initiative, called Breakthrough Listen, will see radio telescopes at Green Bank in West Virginia, the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and...
  • Russian Entrepreneur Pledges $100 Million in Search for Extraterrestrial Life

    07/20/2015 3:15:30 PM PDT · by lbryce · 12 replies
    .Entrepreneur ^ | July 20, 2015 | Nina Zipkin
    Is there anyone else out there in the universe? The endeavor to answer that eternal question got a serious shot in the arm this week thanks to Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner. At the Royal Society in London, the billionaire announced the launch of Breakthrough Listen, a 10-year, $100 million initiative to search for signs of extraterrestrial life. Related: The Power of Planning: NASA's Pluto Flyby Was Epic and Amazing Aided by the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in W. Va., the CSIRO Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia and the Lick Telescope in at the Lick Observatory in...